Tuesday, November 25, 2008

$800 billion more

Together, the programs from the Federal Reserve and the New York Fed aim to dump $800 billion in additional funds into the struggling U.S. economy, more than Congress approved in October for a bailout of the nation's banks and Wall Street firms.

By putting that money in the hands of holders of consumer and mortgage loan securities, the government hopes more money will flow to consumers than has occured so far in previous bailout plans.
That $200 billion aimed at spurring consumer borrowing will come from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which will lend that money to holders of securities backed by consumer debt, such as credit card debt.

The statement from Treasury said that while roughly $240 billion of those kinds of securities were issued by the nation's financial institutions in 2007, the issuance of those securities essentially came to a halt in October.
But the $200 billion under this program, and an additional $600 billion being made available to increase mortgage lending, will come from an increase in reserves by the Fed. Essentially, the central bank is creating more money to cover that lending.

The Treasury, which oversees the $700 billion approved by Congress last month to help financial institutions, has been reluctant to make a major commitment of those funds to this new effort. Thus it allocated only $20 billion, or the same amount it invested in troubled banking giant Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) in a move announced Sunday.

So it was left to the Federal Reserve of New York, which is headed by Timothy Geithner, the man nominated by President-elect Obama to take Paulson's place, to come up with the funds to try to restart consumer lending.
Summers last month said "There are a lot of different ways of saying it, but the way I heard it said best was by President Zedillo about six months into the Mexican financial crisis. He said: Markets overreact — and that means policy has to overreact. You don’t want to come up late — and you don’t want to come up short. ... It’s a lot easier to correct the errors of overreaction than the errors of underreaction.” ... since markets overreact, policy has to overreact as well. And that means strong action.”

So much for simply "temporary, targeted, and timely." How about overreactive, outsized, and opportunistic?


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